For KW’s Vegetarians & Vegans

How do you get enough protein?

Said by ignorant meataranians always.

How do you get enough fibre?

Said by no vegetarian/vegan ever.

It still amazes/shocks/annoys me how some people still wonder where vegetarians/vegans get their protein. There are so many sources of plant protein; if you compare grams per calorie, broccoli has more protein than beef, and spinach has approximately the same amount of protein as chicken!

General definitions:

Vegan: No meat, eggs, dairy, or anything that includes animal-derived ingredients (eg. gelatin)

Vegetarian: No meat or fish generally, with variations below

Different types of vegetarians:

Pescatarian: Eats fish

Flexitarian: Eat mostly vegetarian, but occasionally eat meat

Lacto-ovo-vegetarian: Eat milk and eggs

Based on my personal experiences with friends who are vegetarian/vegan, a vegetarian diet usually stems from religious reasons (e.g. Hinduism, Buddhism), yogis (principle of ahimsa), and/or a strong love for animals. As veganism is more strict than vegetarianism, friends who are vegans usually do it for moral ethical reasons (against violent treatment towards animals). Of course, health is also one of the largest driving forces for going vegetarian/vegan.

Us meataranians/omnivores may think that the vegetarian/vegan way of life is difficult, but that is not true at all. It does take more effort in this meat-loving society, but have you ever been to a restaurant where they do not serve salad or some sort of vegetable-based dish? Unless it is Korean BBQ or Ribfest, there is probably always going to be alternatives available. Other than the Western salads, I found that Chinese restaurants are especially easy to go meatless with the typically elaborate menu section dedicated to stir-fry tofu/mushrooms with vegetables.

I have gotten several requests to do a vegetarian/vegan restaurant round-up, so here’s a list of my preferred places in KW for some lighter fare. I have categorized them based on Harry Potter character references (heh heh heh).

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THE PURE BLOOD (aka. Ronald Weasley)

(Solely vegetarian/vegan food)

Thrive Juice Bar on Urbanspoon

Their website is horrendously outdated, but they seem active on Facebook.

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Their juice bar features I-have-no-idea how many different kinds of nut butters and amazing add-ons. They offer so many variations of smoothies that their drink menu takes up a whole wall! Of course, dairy-free options are available.

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Their food section is another amazing array of variety, all through an open-concept counter kitchen.

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Daily features typically include a soup, curry and dessert. It was spicy Texan tortilla soup, Thai yellow peanut curry, and vegan cupcakes on the day of my visit.

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Grilled portobello & tempeh sandwich.

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Their daily feature of yellow curry with brown rice.

There is very limited seating space and they are always packed during lunch time. I recommend grabbing an early lunch or take-out if you are heading there during the lunch time rush hour.

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Cafe Pyrus on Urbanspoon

Cafe Pyrus is a vegan-focused cafe right across from Charles Bus Terminal. However, they do offer cheddar if you prefer that to Daiya.

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Charming ambiance, and I really enjoy how it is the perfect option for a quick and light bite before a long bus ride from Charles Bus Terminal to wherever.

Another open-concept kitchen.

They also refurbished! It used to be:

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And now its bright red, sleek and modern:

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So if you have not been there for a while, time to check it out again! I recommend the Angry Vegan sandwich (caramelized onion, old cheddar, spinach, tomato, artichoke spread on panini bun, with a side of quinoa).

And their barista(s) make a mean cup of cappuccino.

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Thanks Ben for my first cup of almond milk cappuccino! Even without the usual dairy fat and protein, it was still a sweet foamy decadent cup with a slight hint of nutty aroma. I enjoyed it.

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THE HALF-BLOOD (aka. Harry Potter)

(Specializes in vegetarian/vegan food but has meaty options)

Seven Shores Urban Market & Cafe on Urbanspoon

Their website also seems outdated so it is best to refer to their Facebook page. I guess Facebook is a preferred option for restaurants to communicate their latest news and daily specials since it is much more interactive than a static website.

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Also renovated – much better than their previous store layout, which was way too crammed up.

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Again, open-concept kitchen. Another common theme!

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Love this space, props to the owners for the elegant decor.

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Try reading that! Unlearn.

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I have tried both meaty & vegetarian/vegan options at Seven Shores. Prefers the latter.

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Mile-high pastrami on rye & chicken on a kaiser.

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Miso-sesame tempeh wrap.

This cafe also gets reaaaally busy so come early!

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East African Café on Urbanspoon

I wonder if this is the only place in KW offering the eat-with-your-hands experience.

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Stephen Hawking visited them once! How cool is that?

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There was no one else in the restaurant but we had to wait 30 minutes for our order. We got a little impatient and frustrated as there was no one out in the front except us! No servers, no owner, nobody. A little scary.

The long wait was because the owner only starts making the dish from scratch when you order (or maybe because they just opened for lunch), so make sure you have time to spare when you head to this restaurant.

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Shiro (ground split peas & beans, with spices, onions, and garlic).

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Served with house-made injera. Extremely interesting spongy texture, tasted kind of like sourdough bread. It feels like a massive thick blanket version of crepes, very soft.

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The non-vegetarian option we had was the Tibs Alcha (cubed lamb sautéed in pan with specially spiced butter).

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It was HUGE (the plate took up the whole table space), and we could barely finish the injera on this place so did not touch the other two mega pieces of injera at all. For two people, one order would be sufficient ($15~). There is also the vegetarian combo for $15, which includes five types of vegetarian dishes and house salad – probably the best deal in the house.

Although the wait time was unacceptably long considering there were no other customers in the house, I truly enjoyed my first African food experience.

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THE SEEMINGLY MUGGLE (aka. Hermione Granger)

(You don’t know its brilliance until you discover it for yourself)

Marbles Casual Fine Dining on Urbanspoon

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At first sight, Marbles seems like the average meataranian favourite spot, with beer and cocktails and burgers and ribs.

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Okay, maybe on second sight as well.

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But don’t be fooled – they have awesome vegetarian/vegan options!

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Ratatouille – you can get it without cheese.

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Raw pad-thai (my go-to order) – Asian cut vegetables in ginger almond butter sauce, topped with cashews, coconut and mango. Although you can easily julienne all the vegetables at home, I LOVE their sauce! Trust me, it is a very filling dish.

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Unfortunately, I think their raw cheesecake (made with cashews) is terrible. It was served frozen as our server explained that “it will fall apart once defrosted”. We were advised to wait 5 minutes before eating, but even after 20 minutes, the cake was still rock hard! Our server offered to put it under the heat lamp, so another 10 minutes went by but only a small portion of top layer was edible. The green apple “flavour” was tasteless. Y said, “Ah, maybe because it is a vegan cheesecake so that’s why its tasteless”. NOOoooo! I’m pretty sure vegan cheesecakes taste good too. If you have tried Marbles’ cheesecake and vegan cheesecake elsewhere please let me know. I am sure there are better versions.

Though the dessert was a flop for me, I really enjoy the options available at Marbles. There is something for everyone so the stubborn meataranians (*cough Y cough) do not have to freak out about going to a vegetarian/vegan restaurant and dying of hunger after the “meal without protein”.

Please leave a comment if you have great suggestions about vegetarian/vegan restaurants in KW! I know that Bread heads and Duke Street Muse are also great places for a lighter fare.

Tomorrow is Meatless Monday!

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Comments
12 Responses to “For KW’s Vegetarians & Vegans”
  1. Patrick says:

    Two places that should be on the list:
    1) The Lotus Tea House in Uptown Waterloo – unfortunately they recently changed their hours so they’re now only open for lunch
    2) AM Africa – they’ve been doing “eat with your hands experience” in downtown Kitchener for over a decade

    • Wow, thanks Patrick! I had no idea about AM Africa, urbanspoon lied to me about the “only African restaurant” in KW.

      I like Lotus Tea House, but more so for their tea. Almond tea is amazing there.

  2. Heather says:

    wow. absolutely no mention of Jane Bond, an amazing exclusively vegetarian restaurant, or even Ethels, which has a copious amount of vegetarian options!

  3. Kristina says:

    The African Cafe restaurant is always slow… but it is truly one of my favourite restaurants in KW and I have been there many times now! They are especially slow at lunch – better service for dinner. However, I do think the slow service suites the atmosphere of the whole place… once you’re there you just need to sit back and relax. They are so friendly once they do get to you, and the food is unbeatable!

    Also need to comment on the vegan cheesecake – I have had it (and made it myself) and it really can be delicious. I haven’t had it at Marbles, but my guess would be that if it doesn’t taste good, they are doing something wrong! Try it elsewhere please – such a fabulous dessert option :)

    • The food is really good at African place eh! The injera was very interesting and I am looking forward to try AM Africa.

      And yes, I do believe vegan cheesecake can be delicious. Have you tried it anywhere else around here?

  4. Ryan says:

    healthy foods and more offers a few different types of vegan cheese cake from their bakery. Absolutely to die for! it will kinda melt if it’s been left out for hours, but in no way should marbles need theirs to be frozen…

    • Wow, super cool I’ve never been to Healthy Foods & more! I will definitely check that out. Yea… that cheesecake was probably not made that day so they had to freeze it. oh well! Thanks for the great suggestion!

  5. Rachel says:

    I eat there often at lunch time and love their food. The Moroccan stew especially is to die for!

  6. Good to know, thanks Rachel!

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